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‘Seccull House No.2’ 77-79 Smith St, Lorne VIC

A Christmas miracle confluence of premier Victorian beach town and preeminent Victorian architect, this residence was Guilford Bell‘s second commission for the Seccull family, completed a mere year after their city home was finished. Now, those of you with pachyderm memories and/or super serfs at the foot of the Australian Modern gods will remember when we showcased the first Seccull House 2 years ago. This formiddible statement of theoretical breadth and unfettered vision clearly impressed Mr and Mrs Seccull enough for them immediately request a holiday house in the then boho and surfer dream town of Lorne. This auspicious combo of patronage, prestige and place leads to this 1973 listing which should have many weak at the knees. A configuration in two parts: the bedroom wing – a comfortingly steadfast block of repeating windows, rooms and balconies – a design which had roots in the 1930s Internationalist circles, but which  thereafter become 20th Century design shorthand utilised in everything from motels to offices to retails strips across the globe. And in an adjoining twist, but very typical of Bell’s (especially later) work, the living dining pagoda-esq pavilion topped with an incredible timber-lined ceiling and exapnisve decking affording all the breathtaking Otway coast views. To die to die! Of course it’s had its share of updating (some bits most successful than others) but for the most part it remains close to the original in form and it would be a hard heart indeed who wouldn’t give their eye teeth for the chance of inhabiting such a home of such provenance and location. 

Historical photos curtesy of Simon Reeves at Victoria Modern – many thanks Mr Reeves!

27 Holmwood Ave, Anglesea VIC

Settle down children and we’ll tell you a story. A tale of our very first foray into the world of MCM before we really understood the term or the subject. Back in mists of the 1990s, while researching an art project we went hunting for the all-Australian fibro, pastel-toned, mid-century beach house of our childhood mind’s eye. A tour of the ti-treed lots of sleepy, mid-winter Anglesea was target numero uno, as we knew those hills to hold a trove of such homes. Film photos were taken (digital was a couple of years away), developed and cataloged away but some of these homes never, ever left our thoughts. And in the coming years with the coastal real estate market venturing into absurd new territory of aspiration and ownership we’d sometimes recall those buildings and sigh that they probably had fallen by the wayside. This house was one of them. Last seen last century, painted pale lemon, hiding in a thicket of dark trees on a large hilly block, those octagonal windows, entry patio and dynamic skillion roof-line were never going to be forgotten. Suffice to say we nearly fell off our chair when we we spotted it today, sparkling anew with an architect designed extension. It has not only survived as intact as we could probably hope for but thrives as a celebrated design reference still as practical and breezy beautiful as the day it was originally constructed 60 years ago. An endless summer is a true reality for a lucky few…………

32 Gray St, Riverside TAS

Another in the basket of the doable, more than doable really, as this Lonnie lovely has striking Mid-1960s form (project home we dare say) which are nigh on impossible to reproduce with integrity, but is relatively unaltered inside. This leaves an opportunity for some clever busy bee to get to work and cajole this little home into something loyal to its lines and wonderful to behold. 

4 Joshua Crt, Lara Vic

At this stage and with thousands of listings under our belt we really shouldn’t be so surprised about the high calibre of architect designed gems sitting in little ‘ol Lara. Maybe it’s an argument proving that illogical prejudices of the geographically adjacent remain the most stubborn to shake loose. No matter, there’s nothing bad to say about about this baby – not with those clean lines, beamed ceilings, lovely (and rather luxurious for the time) layout topped with that rip-snorting kidney-shaped pool and expanse of garden out back. No siree, this one is a bona-fide beauty in a now burgeoning ‘burb with a price tag sitting steadfast in reality. Hooray!

7-9 Panorama Place, Deloraine TAS

We’ve been holding on for Tassie to show us something special for a while and we’re glad we waited, for this is gangbusters. A massive family home with a bunch of mainstream extras: retreat! man cave! huge land! With additional MCM fan boxes being ticked all over: sunken lounge! Beautiful timber joinery! Breeze block and stone! 1 storey high hills hoist! (?). In a rather tucked away part of the country, under a pristine expanse of sky Rickie Lee Jones herself would mention this wonderful residence is one of a kind and allows you to financially have your 5 bedroom house and eat your avo toast too. Weeeeeeee!

PS. This home also boasts it’s own insta page and names its architect (Tandy, Pryor & Rogers) and builder in the pitch –  kudos to those responsible for such devotion!

311 Rowan St, Golden Square VIC

Though perhaps not one for purists, this version of roomy family casa, beautifully appointed and speaking loud n’ clear in the 70s vernacular is something we can totally get on board with. The condition of this one is awe inspiring and with little details which make us die and die again (bulkhead lighting – where are you these days?) we think it’s a true regional prize. Step to kids.

73 Kenmore Rd, Kenmore QLD

Like the quietest person in the room finally speaking to reveal themselves as also the smartest, this elegant home flies utterly under the radar. The somewhat forgettable, coffee-toned street view belies wonderfully conceived interiors of a sophisticated design (that main ensuite yes!) and stunningly well maintained bespoke joinery simply everywhere, double points also for those gorgeous bathrooms and kitchen – all in insanely good condition for their age. The architect’s name is yet to be uttered (don’t pussy-foot Deb, just tell us!) but it’s sure to be a local luminary we’ll well know. Any hints kids?

24 Glengarry Ave, Glenalta SA

Time to revisit a familiar residential profile. A shape we’ve spotted and listed in every berg, coast to coast from Goonellabah to Marino to Wye River and beyond. Answerable to a particularly beachy (and Beachcomber) calling, but also appearing far from any shoreline, this simple positioning of a single rectangular form for primary living mounted on a plinth of secondary useable space – perhaps carport or a laundry, ping pong or workroom – is an eternal expression of Mid-Century Australian residential design. Indeed it is rather glee-inducing to recognise such lofty, formal and even austere design beginnings in 1930s Bauhaus Europe, finding their way over here in an incalculable multitude of guises underpinned by the original yet ultimately evolving like a large, eccentric family tree by aspirations of a casual and unbuttoned antipodean lifestyle. And here we present today’s version. Though simple and appreciative of a sympathetic dalliance inside, the striking visual of the outside, not forgetting the lush gardens and rolling vistas, is promise enough. In short, this house is super cool and doesn’t even know it. Yet. 

7 Macnamara St, Ferny Creek VIC

For those whose yuletide (and general lifetide) yearns for the trappings of a higher altitude then feast your eyes here. Indeed this realised project home was especially designed, by architects Alex Kostromin and Geoffrey A. Dobbin (under firm Lucas & Morris), for those who live to celebrate fondue, fair isle knits, open fires and egg nog. Hence its name – ‘The Alpine’. 

“This chalet type house was first featured as one of six model homes at the ‘Environment ‘75’ Display Village at Trafford Court Wheelers Hill. It opened in 1970. The village featured the Rustic, The Ranch, Mobili Nova, The Australian Homestead, and Alpine models” – Steven Coverdale, MCDA.

This jaw-dropper is not only set within some gorgeously dripping green forest, adjacent to Sherbrooke, but looks to have remained miraculously untouched since its construction in the early 1970s. Though there may be a little practical attention required to shore up the damp, the sheer exhilaration of that soaring Brady-esq lounge (geometric balustrades FTW!), irreplaceable Japanese tile, built in joinery and dynamic exteriors would be worth every ounce of toil to bring it back to full après-ski/bushwalk glory once more. 


33 Depper St, St Lucia QLD

Hailing from Brissy’s major MCM catchment zone is this super dooper cutie-pie with elevated frontage, humble dimensions, awesome retro lines, neat-o condish and unbeatable charm. And don’t forget some very motivated sellers. Get in quick!

‘Lara’ 365 McBurnie and Boags Rd, Walkerville VIC

As 2018 draws to a close, labouring minds and bodies begin to feel the shackles of routine slip towards more mild, unstructured days (perhaps with the bonus of dedicated digital deferral) and eyes start to wander locales in which to fully enjoy the breeze and sunlight. This stunning residence in a far away Gippsland village is such a place. With the scene set in ti-tree tunnels and bucolic vistas, this 1969 work of lesser known architect Joe Palliser has an gorgeous and evocative air. Modern design and simple aesthetics dovetail to create a sophisticated home with a euro-rural flavour, the kind of residence ripe to host some French drama, with Charlotte Rampling sulkily sipping wine in the kitchen over her haul of carrots from the patch outside. But we digress. Whatever takes your fancy; a weekender, a tree-change, a holiday home, a nice dream, this lovely listing will most certainly ignite the senses and recalibrate those not yet in holiday mode, dialling it all down towards a more reflective state.

34 Stroud St, Bulahdelah NSW

Hello! And what a glorious potential arises before our very eyes this evening with a decommissioned house of worship. That said, the worship ain’t stopping anytime soon as the awesome, unmistakable lines of 1964 architect MCM design has us alternatively speaking in tongues and in bowed genuflection with every click. Unlike many out there, the idea of taking an old church building and converting it to a home has never appealed, but that’s generally due to such buildings in question presenting in the 19th century, neo-gothic tradition; one central nave, soaring gabled roof, walls constructed of either paper thin timber and/or bluestone iceboxes, in short an acoustic and heating nightmare. This design is, on the other hand, the perfect proposition of several medium spaces, sun-lit entry, incredible butterfly roofline and banks of windows just ripe to drill down and work it into a casa of pure Modernist joy. Throw in a sizable chunk of land with a natural courtyard within the L-shaped construction (just ripe for a pool we say) and you’ll be nothing but a ball of Baptist brand, foot-stomping hallelujahs in no time.

*With thanks to Secret Design Studio for unearthing this one.

9 Sydney Rd, Warriewood NSW

Like a subject of Reg Mombassa’s Australian dreaming made manifest, this remarkable (c.1954) building awaits its fate to be handed down this Saturday. The sheer purity of clean squared forms – foundations, windows, steps, roof set on a verdant, flattened slope with a manicured canopy of frangipani and ferns tucked in one side imparts a kind of unreality to the entire scene, compelling one to keep glancing at in it small awe. This sculptural exterior belies a more familiar interior with the larger windows and regular spaces of any excellent Mid-Century beach side house, though the design is more complex than a simple rectangular floor plan with extras and considerations made for the aforementioned slope. An architect had a hand here and we query as we daydream if he/she will ever be named and known again………….

3 Perry Crt, Kew VIC

Is this a fire sale? We’ve seen this one before (and frankly, though the house is unchanged, the old photos are way better). It sold less than two years ago for well above the current asking price. Hmmmmmmm. So, for those who missed it the first time cop a look at this Kevin Borland beauty with some fantastic joinery, all original (though they pulled up the olive mustard carpet) and ready for a new lucky so-and-so to snap it up.

‘Torrens Courtyard Housing’ 100 &102 Batchelor St, Torrens ACT

Something a little more unusual today, well rather, two things. This double offer of adjoining 3 bedroom ‘dupli’ AKA ‘Torrens Courtyard Housing’ (c.1966) with the disappointing banality of ‘development’ rah-rah handing over their heads. We think these homes, the work of Netherlands-born Australian Modernist architect Dirk Bolt are really something special, with those beautiful walled courtyards and patios, striking street frontage and banks of entire and half wall windows, and which posses huge scope to utilise such gorgeous elements and renew their architectural beauty with a little interior help. A mindful and skilled practitioner could transform these tired buildings into one home or preferably a shared generational living set-up and/or any manner of collective housing arrangements, as per the philosophy of their architect as Canberra Modern explains:
“In designing group housing schemes, some in association with group centres, Bolt explored an interest in the urban as well as the built form. Bolt’s central planning themes in group housing were to provide a range of housing types and access to outdoor private space. His rationale was that in each development, providing a mix in the numbers of bedrooms, and hence of family structures and lifestyles, would help promote interaction between people of different ages and social groups. The other key principle was that each dwelling should offer the opportunity to move easily from living areas into private open space. So where gardens were not possible people had access to courtyards or broad terraces.”

This housing is a prime example of the progressive experiment that was Canberra Modernism. They not only deserve to stay standing but are absolutely entitled to local protection and recognition, as their true inspirational plight and (we think) success in finding new ways of dwelling and community planning (which has been criminally ignored for the last 30 years) returns again with vengeance as the topic de jour across the entire design and political spectrum.

213a Campbell St, Newtown QLD

We’ve gotta give kudos where its due and that’s to Queensland – their MA game over the last few months has been strong. And for all the snazzy, Palm Springs do-ups and pedigree pads we’ve listed of late in the northern state, we’ve gotta admit this might be our favourite. A super modest, two bedroom home in regional QLD which gives itself over to its creators progressive intentions and sophisticated simplicity with a bit of era-specific zing that is just killing us (in a good way). We simply cannot get enough of that Japanese tree relief, timber and breeze brick frontage and even the bathroom and kitchen though, again, modest hold a particular flair uncommon to type. All in very nice condition, throw in that sub-300k price tag and we have a MCM Australian home ready for anyone.**

**We’d implore anyone keen out there to stay true to this individual vision and forchissake don’t smother it in white, grey, Bunnings kitchen and hyper polished floorboards in some cheap notion to flip. C’mon Australia, we’re better than that.

83A Beach Rd, Mentone VIC

Here’s a grin-inducing slice of Florida on the bay. It might be the white and washed out blue, the palm trees, kidney pool and the painted masonry in gorgeous horizontals creating intervals with fencing which infuses it with specific Miami glam to our mind. It most certainly has something to do with that maritime-meets-Deco balustrade and front entry, cursive lettered iron-work and stunning circle feature above the single garage (Kennedy Nolan eat your heart out). Internally it continues in warm-climate-retiree theme with an explosion of white leather and lace (a dedication to decor we can thoroughly enjoy without endorsement) which cannot detract from the wonderfully clean modern spaces. All up she’s a real humdinger with sadly a price to match, so we dearly hope she can pull through as it would be hugely dispiriting to lose such a delightful evocation of waterside living.

‘McKay House’ Lot 165 Burleigh Way, Mollymook NSW

Sit down gang, we’ve got something to show you and it is nothing less than a knee-buckling slice of pure Australian sublime. Not content with being a pristine example of exquisite 1960s indigenous architecture from one of the nation’s most beloved Modernist firms – that of Allen Jack + Cottier – this unassuming 3 +1 bedroom, c.1968 residence sits nestled and harmonious on a headland so naturally beautiful we cannot quite believe it’s real. Unreal or otherwise the only course of action is to admire it all, let the imagined rumble of the ocean, the smell of the timber and the very ebb of your soul astral project across your troubled plain and into this crowing glory of our breathtaking national bounty of both man and earth. Amen.

7 Howes Crescent, Dianella WA

For those who know what they’re looking at it’s never difficult to spot beautiful MCM homes wherever they pop up. Take this classic residence in WA, in a suburb known for its Mid-Century offerings and from the get go we can tell it’s something a little special – that flat roof, carport, breeze block and massive windows forming its low-slung countenance instantly suggesting an architect’s hand (any thoughts of who it’s could be peeps? Perhaps a project design?) The interiors, though fancifully decked in chandeliers, high-gloss flooring, blanca schema and 80s bathrooms, cannot totally conceal the original flat beamed ceilings, brickwork and pragmatically modern spaces. Similarly the backyard which although accessorised in drab and dreck still screams bossa-nova, mid-60s glamour not least that the entire wall of windows looking onto the patio and poolside. Once again this is a ripper MCM project only needing the most superficial (and thus fun!) of refurbs and landscaping to bring it back to its rightful realm of swingin’ party pad. We can see the blow up swan in that pool already.

1/100 Hotham St, St Kilda East VIC

Behind this tired brick facade and overgrown garden sits a secretly sensational home of considered floor plan and sophisticated interiors, including that superb ‘sunroom’. The dearly departed owner clearly kept their home in wonderful, unmolested condition and it now sits ready – a near perfect southside pad (now the Espy is back up!) – ideally to be taken on by someone who’ll know to keep those light fittings exactly where they are.